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December 10, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Yesterday,three letters to the editor at The Colorado Springs Gazette were written claiming the three typical myths about religious belief: (1) that religion is mostly responsible for the overwhelming evil in the world, (2) that science is to be thanked for essentially all of human progress, and (3) a world without religion (as per John Lennon’s Imagine) would be better than a world with it.

My response was published in today’s Gazette. I have posted it below:

In her letter to the editor, Janet Brazill reminded us of the many killed in the name of religion. While it is impossible to deny this (and Christians do not deny it), one should also keep in mind that far more blood was shed in the twentieth century at the hands of consciously atheistic governments than by all religious governments in the history of the world combined. This, of course, does not remove guilt from the religious, but the non-religious should own up to their guilt as well. Further, one should consider whether the slaughter is consistent in their belief system. The Inquisition was a mis-application of Christianity. Hitler rightly applied social Darwinism, and Communists rightly found individual human value expendable in light of their atheistic utopian community ideals. Thus, their actions in slaughtering millions were perfectly consistent within their atheistic framework.

Along these same lines, Marsha Abelman suggests that we join John Lennon and Imagine a world without religion. We would be wiser to listen to the great atheist thinker Friedrich Nietzsche who also imagined a world without God in his parable The Madman. Unlike Lennon, he prophesied that there would be mass destruction of life in the 20th century, and connected it directly to the death of God from the “progress” of the Enlightenment. But, he also celebrated these inevitable developments, and he accurately recognized that the death of God removes any fixed concept of good or evil. The 20th century validated Nietzsche’s vision.

Evan Eberhardt suggested that science, not religion, was responsible for human progress in the world. Perhaps this is true of many religions, but he misses that monotheistic religion the birth and development of modern science (see the non-religious Rodney Stark’s extensive work on this in his For the Glory of God). Science is impossible without an ordered consistent universe. A worldwith an Orderer offers this kind of universe. A worldwithout an Orderer is accidental and does not offer this kind of universe. Worse yet, if the universe is an accident, then our brains are accidents too. Thus, even if our brains were right, we would never be able to know it and science couldn’t be trusted. This is why, while many modern scientists are atheist, many are not and none of the founders of modern science were.

Finally, there is more to progress than just scientific inquiry and development. Those acting from a Christian worldview are responsible for ending slavery (Wilberforce and others), starting hospitals (Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, and others, feeding hungry children and multiple other acts of international charity and relief (Compassion International currently feeds 1 millions children; also, World Vision and Samaratan’s Purse). It is difficult to see how any of this charity would make sense if the world and the human species were governed by natural selection. For more, see Arthur Brook’s, Who Really Cares and Rodney Stark’s The Victory of Reason.

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